Imam embraces Christianity
His father prepared him—the third among six brothers—as a spiritual leader: thus, aged 10, Mario entered a Koranic school, and when he returned from it at the age of 18, he became an Imam-khatib in a local village Mosque.
However, the young man turned to Christ, and this choice made him a target even for his own father who, having known about his son's conversion to another faith, threatened to kill him. Moreover, his father erected a gravestone in advance in a local Muslim cemetery with the epitaph containing the young man’s name and date of birth.
The Spanish radio station Сadena Сope managed to talk with this young Catholic preacher and learn certain facts from the history of his tremendous trials.
"From age 18, I was an imam and regularly delivered sermons,” begins Joseph. “One Friday I was fervently talking about Isa al-Masih [Jesus the Messiah], saying that He was not Allah. When I finished my speech, someone asked me: "But, after all, who is the Messiah?" On that day I could not find a proper answer; my knowledge in this sphere was extremely poor".
Again and again Mario returned to the Koran, to the Muslim Holy Tradition (the Sunna), to various commentaries of the exegetes of authority, but could not find the answer. To the contrary, he noticed instead that the only woman's name mentioned in the Koran, was the Name of the Most Holy Mary; moreover, according to tradition Muhammad died, while Isa was taken to Heaven alive. "Then, after long thought, I decided to leave the dead one and to follow the Living one," explained the young man.
According to Mario, the choice was not an easy one: "Before making the final decision, I besought the Lord for a long time to give me true guidance... Once, still hesitating, I opened the Koran, and I came across the following ayah (inexact translation): "If you doubt what we granted to you, then ask those who read the Scriptures before you. The Truth from your Lord has come to you; so do not be among those hesitant!" Then I started reading the Bible, and upon its completion I was absolutely convinced of truthfulness of the Christian Scriptures; and at last found my God-Redeemer!"
Knowing that apostasy in the Muslim law is punished by the death penalty, Joseph ran away from his home to the nearest Catholic educational center.
However, the father found the young man, and after beating him violently, he locked him naked, bound hand and foot, without food, in one of the rooms in his house for 28 days.
"When I opened my eyes, I saw my father, holding a knife in his hands,” remembers Mario. “I was sure that he would kill me, as he was a Muslim-Wahhabi... He asked me: do I still accept Christ? When I said "yes", I was literally blinded by a bright light that gave me strength.
Immediately I cried loudly: "Jesus!"... The light disappeared and I saw that my father had fallen down and caught himself on his own knife (Glory to God, though the injury was deep and bleeding, it was not dangerous), and saliva was flowing from his mouth. Relatives at once took him to the hospital and in their hurry left the door open. I took advantage of the opportunity, freed myself and ran away back to the educational center".
The young man firmly believes that a true miracle occurred to him: "This light gave me who am by nature weak and thin, then exhausted and hungry, enormous strength and endurance... Nevertheless, I still cannot recover from ulcers that appeared as a result of prolonged confinement".
Since then Mario Joseph has not returned to his native village, where the gravestone with his name and date of birth still stands...